Naming our Hopes and Fears

I have been in places where I find it hard to name my hopes and fears, and I sense that others may be in those places at times, as well. I think about why it is difficult to reveal an inner fear or hope, yet I believe that is has something to do with not wanting to reveal who I am to others. And if that is so, why is it hard for me to reveal who I am to others? Is it because I fear that I will not be accepted? Could it be that I wonder if I can be forgiven or perhaps that I have not forgiven myself? Perhaps this hiding has to do with my concern that I will not measure up to ideals of being or performing which I, or those I want acceptance from, hold.

God may not be a respecter of persons (see, e.g. Romans 2:11 and Job 34:19), but people certainly are. Every conceivable way in which we can discriminate, choose and judge amongst people is routinely done. We favor beauty and intelligence, we frown upon ugliness and disability. We comfortably affiliate with those who are like us and often avoid those who are not. Body type and body size are factors by which men and women judge one another. Skin color creates a range of response from admiration to disdain. In reflecting on how we react to human behavior, I believe that we are also judgmental. Great feats of athleticism are praised, simple acts of life are often overlooked or disregarded. Errors are often condemned, while compliance is either taken for granted or expected. Judging and discriminating are real and legitimate human actions in particular contexts, while in other cases, totally inappropriate.

It does not surprise me when I find myself concerned about how others may see me, judge me, or regard me. While I think this is a fairly normal human response, I also realize that God would have me see that all people are loved and accepted in God’s kingdom. While innate characteristics and God-given gifts and abilities may allow us to excel or lag behind others, do these attributes also cause use to be ranked and judged? How do I get to the place of sharing myself openly, realizing that my openness may bring reactions that I am not comfortable with? Will I trust God enough to know that while I am not perfect and will never measure up to everyone’s ideal, I am still able to do much of what I am called to do and be all that God has made me to be?

I name my fear of being rejected, and my hope of being accepted. I recognize my joy in being affirmed and my sadness over being discounted. In my recognition, I sense that others are like me.

Dear God, help me to accept and affirm. Help me to judge appropriately, as you do, not as the world does. Help me to celebrate your creation, including those made in the image and likeness of God.

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